Liverpool FC: Predicting the Reds Carling Cup Starting XI

Thomas Atzenhoffer@socceratzCorrespondent IIFebruary 23, 2012

Liverpool FC: Predicting the Reds Carling Cup Starting XI

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    Liverpool head south to Anfield for their first match ever in the new Wembley Stadium since it was re-opened in 2007.

    Old Wembley was once called "Anfield South," and the Reds will be hoping that this season they can lay claim to that once again, as they pursue the FA Cup final in May. It would be their first domestic cup double since 2001.

    However, first things are first, as the Reds take on Cardiff City on Sunday, February 26th, 2012 to contest the 2011-12 Carling Cup.

    Liverpool have won League Cups in the following years: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1995, 2001 and 2003.

    Cardiff have never reached a Carling Cup final but have one FA Cup to their name from 1927, having lost in the 2008 final to Portsmouth.

    It is certain to be a great match, and the Reds are the favored club to take the first piece of silverware up for grabs this calendar year.

    However, anything can happen in a one-off game in the atmosphere that Wembley is sure to provide.

GK: Pepe Reina

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    Reina is the automatic and deserves his chance at glory between the sticks more than many, as his efforts this season in net have been phenomenal.

    A large part of his success can be linked to the defensive four in front of him as well.

RB: Glen Johnson

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    Glen Johnson has been a rather silent threat all season for the Reds. He goes about his business but is always an ever present attacker as well as defender.

    His abilities to keep the majority of the league's best in shackles all season has been complement to the hard work the Reds have put in on defense. For most of his career he has been known for his attacking more than defending.

RCB: Martin Skrtel

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    Although Jamie Carragher deserves a run out at Wembley Stadium, he is likely to have to wait until the second half.

    With Daniel Agger fit for the match, Skrtel should reclaim his spot on the right side of defense, as he has been in excellent form all season.

    The Slovakian's threat on set pieces and corners makes him vital to the Reds' offense as well.

LCB: Daniel Agger

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    Daniel Agger is fit and ready for action as he will make his return to the starting line-up.

    The Dane has been excellent all season and his aerial prowess is just as important as Skrtel's to the Reds great set piece attack this campaign.

    Agger also has the ability to press the defense forward on attack and the Reds will have to expect a need for that on the counter attack as Cardiff are likely to play an open game and go for it.

LB: Jose Enrique

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    Jose Enrique continues his fine form for the Reds at left back since joining from Newcastle last summer.

    His attacking support, as well as his strength in defense, will make him yet another defensive automatic call up.

RM: Stewart Downing

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    Stewart Downing is in line for a call to arms at Wembley, as he had a great performance against Brighton last week in the Reds' FA Cup victory.

    With the return of Craig Bellamy, however, he may get switched to the right hand side to compete with Jordan Henderson and Maxi Rodriguez for his place.

CM: Charlie Adam

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    Either Charlie Adam or Jordan Henderson will be Steven Gerrard's partner in the middle of the pitch if Kenny Dalglish is to put his best team forward.

    Adam was in good form against Brighton while Henderson was less effective leaving the former Blackpool man the favorite to retain his place in the side.

CM: Steven Gerrard

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    This is the type of match that Steven Gerrard was born for and that he personally lives for.

    In an interview printed in the Daily Mail, he had this to say about winning at Wembley rather than Cardiff's Millennium Stadium where the Reds won their last piece of silverware, the 2006 FA Cup:

    Every time I played for Liverpool at Cardiff and led the team out there, there was a bit of me thinking if only this was Wembley.

    Don't get me wrong, we had some great days in Cardiff and I've got some fantastic memories of playing at the Millennium Stadium. But I'd have preferred to have won  those trophies at Wembley.

    Gerrard is keen to bring back trophy glory to Liverpool before his time is up, and this is where he must start to turn the Reds' fortunes back to winning ways.

LM: Craig Bellamy

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    Liverpool's Standard Chartered club proclaimed player of the month for January, Craig Bellamy, has been pasted fit for the match and is likely to return to the Reds' first team against his hometown club.

    Bellamy spent part of last season on loan to the Cardiff, and it is his father's favored club and in an interview with The Sun has claimed that he will do his best not to celebrate if he scores:

    I certainly wouldn't celebrate but I tried not to against Manchester City (in the semi-final) and with the occasion and the moment you can get carried away.

    It is a strange situation and something I've really not looked forward to. My father is a Cardiff fan and it is the club I used to go to when young.

    Bellamy should be a lively player to watch in the final, as his thirst for a trophy is one of the most parched on the side.

CF: Luis Suarez

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    Luis Suarez is one of the Reds' three key attacking figures alongside Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll, and his two goals in his last two games should give him continued confidence up front for the Reds.

    The Uruguayan has taken a lot of criticism over his recent transgressions, but it has been a learning experience for the player.

    However, it is time to get to the business of winning the Reds their first trophy since their 2006 FA Cup, and Suarez will be a key part of that goal.

ST: Andy Carroll

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    Andy Carroll played one of the best games of his Liverpool career in the club's last FA Cup clash against Brighton.

    He was a bit of a complainer in the first half, but he came back in the second with determination and not only scored a quality goal from Stewart Downing's cross but rose to head down a ball that Luis Suarez finished sublimely.

    Carroll, Gerrard and Suarez will be in the game all at once for only the second time in over a year. It looks like a great opportunity for the Reds to take the first piece of English silverware up for grabs this calendar year.


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    Liverpool have a tough test in Cardiff, but if the Reds come to play as they have throughout the entire cup competition, they should claim victory.

    Kenny Dalglish has claimed that it is the club's respect of the competition that has seen them go so far. According to The Sun:

    I think we have treated it with respect but the teams that have treated it with respect are few and far between.

    We have treated it very seriously. We've used 20-odd players to get there so every member of the squad bar a couple has made a contribution.

    We are grateful to all of them, to the owners and supporters and everyone who has stood by us.

    Come on you Reds! You'll Never Walk Alone!


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